The NBA is currently dealing with some challenges ahead of the season restart in Orlando, with the number of COVID-19 cases as well as the number of players opting not to play increasing.
Nevertheless, the NBA continues to push through with its restart plans as it recently released the complete regular-season schedule for the 22 participating teams.
There are some mouth-watering matchups to look forward to, and SBOBET has selected five games that are definitely a must-watch once the season gets back underway.
LA Clippers vs Los Angeles Lakers, July 30
The NBA will kick off the Orlando bubble with a bang as the Clippers and Lakers collide on opening night.
The two city rivals have already met three times this season, and all of them have been competitive and exciting affairs. The Clippers won the first two meetings, while the Lakers took the third game.
Avery Bradley was the unexpected star of LA’s win as he had 24 points, including six 3-pointers. Unfortunately, Bradley has opted not to play in Orlando due to family concerns.
As a result, the Lakers are set to sign veteran JR Smith to take up Bradley’s spot in the line-up. Smith, who has yet to play this season, should get his first taste of NBA action against the Clippers.
The NBA 2020 odds still have the two LA teams as the top title favourites, and this game could very well be a preview of the Western Conference Finals.
Superstars Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James should be fresh and ready to go right from the tip as they look to get back up to speed ahead of the playoffs.
Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks, Aug. 1
The Bucks are the biggest roadblock to the title returning to LA this season. With Giannis Antetokounmpo once again playing at an MVP calibre, the Bucks have been by far the best team in the East and don’t appear to have any serious challengers.
However, the Celtics have the potential to cause Milwaukee some problems. They have one of the best coaches in the league in Brad Stevens. Jayson Tatum was having a breakout season before the suspension of play. All-Star point guard Kemba Walker should also be back to his best (or close to it) after struggling with a knee injury.
The Celtics will get the chance to prove their credentials as legitimate contenders right away as they take on Milwaukee in their first game back. It will be a tough but entertaining battle between two of the top teams in the East.
Memphis Grizzlies vs New Orleans Pelicans, Aug. 4
Zion Williamson was supposed to be this season’s breakout rookie who would lead his team, the New Orleans Pelicans, back to the playoffs.
Unfortunately, Zion missed most of the season due to injury, opening the door for Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies to steal his thunder. The explosive point guard has had a brilliant debut campaign, producing several NBA 2020 highlights en route to getting the Grizz on the cusp of their first postseason berth since 2017.
But Williamson has been every bit as impressive as he was hyped up to be since his return. He averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds to help keep the Pelicans’ playoff hopes alive.
That race for the final playoff spot in the West will be one of the biggest subplots in the Orlando bubble. Williamson and the Pelicans are one of several teams eager to grab that spot, so their matchup with Morant and the Grizzlies will definitely be one to watch.
Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles Lakers, Aug. 7
The Lakers and Clippers are both widely considered the teams to beat in the West, but the Rockets are potential dark horses who have the talent to take down the two LA teams in the Orlando bubble.
Their backcourt combination of Russell Westbrook and James Harden is as good as any duo in the entire league, and those two have thrived in the Rockets’ new super small-ball line-up.
They even beat the Lakers in LA before the pause in play despite Harden having an off-night. Westbrook carried the load that night with 41 points, eight rebounds, and five assists.
Harden was in the midst of a shooting slump toward the end of the season, which was perhaps due to fatigue. But with over three months of rest, the Beard should be back to his best in Orlando.
It will be so interesting to see what happens in the rematch. If the Rockets can repeat that success, the Lakers could have some problems if they meet in the playoffs.
Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors, Aug. 13
Aside from the Rockets, the Philadelphia 76ers are also a team that has the potential to make some noise in the bubble. All-Star guard Ben Simmons is healthy again after a back injury, while star big man Joel Embiid should also be fresh for the stretch run.
But for all the talent the 76ers undoubtedly have, they have not had the season many expected of them, in part due to some less-than-ideal chemistry.
Contrast that with the defending champion Toronto Raptors, who, despite the loss of Kawhi Leonard as well as several injuries, still have a hold on the No. 2 seed in the East. They owe much of their success to the brilliance of head coach Nick Nurse, who has gotten the most out of every player on his roster.
The Sixers have a surprisingly easy schedule when the regular season restarts. Their matchup against the Raptors will be one of their true tests to see if they can actually be serious contenders in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
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